Sue Sweeney - January 21, 2018

What if the Grass is Greener Over There?

Ask Better Questions

What would you do if you learned the world was ending next week? Our answers to that question reveal our ‘happiness gap’ – how far we are from the life we really want. The Corinthian Christians asked Paul whether they should marry given the trials of their culture and the immanent return (they think!) of Jesus. Paul’s advice to them is to be content where they are. Rather than focusing on the greener grass over there, we should focus on what God is calling us to right where we are.

From Series: "Ask Better Questions"

Does it seem these days that people don't ask good questions? Questions come with barbs all over them, or are asked in such a way that the answer is already obvious. God coming into the world raises some big questions about how we live in the wake of his coming. But we need to ask the right questions. This series will explore the questions asked of Paul by the Christians in Corinth. We'll get at the questions behind their questions, to the good news for all of us - even here at the dawn of the 21st century. Jesus has come into the world, and nothing has been the same since.

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What would you do if you knew the world was ending tomorrow?

There are tons of movies about this topic. Most of them are pretty silly. It’s actually a pretty serious question…almost a scary question…if you think about it because it reveals a lot about what we really wish we had in life.

So, how do you picture yourself spending your very last day on Earth? Perched on top of a mountain of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups surrounded with your loved ones? Maybe that’s just me. Peanut Butter Cups or not,  I know I would want to spend my last day with my husband and our girls.

A couple weeks ago, I did some informal research on social media. I asked my Facebook friends, “If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you do?” in less than a day, I got 17 responses. There were some different ideas. Among them were eating donuts, listening to music, and vanquishing enemies. All those I could get behind! Well, maybe at least the donuts and music. I’m sure the response about enemy vanquishing was facetious…at least I hope. One thing was constant- almost all the responses included spending time with loved ones during their last day on earth.

This reveals how important relationships are in our lives.

Thinking about this question- how would we spend our last day on earth- forces us to take stock in our lives right now. It leads us to think about what we really want out of the relationships we have with our friends, family, and significant others- or lack thereof. “Who do I have in my life? Who do I want to be part of my life, but they’re not? Or, who is this person I’m sharing my life with? We used to be in love? What’s happened?” Relationships are so important, yet they have the tendency to be so imperfect.

It’s possible that for many of us, trying to answer this question about our last day on earth could reveal that we’re not exactly where we want to be in life right now.

When we hear other people answer this question, we hear about them spending time with loved ones- holding their spouse and children close. Then we think about ourselves. What if we don’t have spouses and children? When we think about how we would spend our last days, it tends to make us think about what we’re going to be missing. It raises questions about the status of our relationships. Maybe you’re not married yet and you thought we would be by now. Maybe you were married and it didn’t work out. Maybe you are currently married, but things aren’t going exactly how you imagined. We long for things to be different than the way they are now. These longings reveal our happiness gap- the gap between where we are right now and the life we think we’re supposed to be having right now.

For a long time it seemed like marriage was the way to find happiness. Now, it seems TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and Insecure glorify the single life. We’re getting mixed messages from different places. Anymore, if you talk to single people, they want to be married. If you talk to married people, they want to be single. It seems like the grass is always greener on the other side. Churches have long come down on the side of marriage (even though Jesus was single!) to the extent that, in many churches like ours, single people have struggled finding where they fit. It leads us to wonder which God really thinks is better? Is it better to be married or is it better to be single?

When I asked that question on Facebook, “if the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you do?” Elizabeth Sims replied, “I can’t imagine doing anything different.” Not that there is necessarily a right or wrong answer to this question, but what Elizabeth said really resonates with what the Apostle Paul had to say to his church in Corinth. There is something more important than what we think is the “right” way to do things. The Good News is that God cares more about who we are now, where we are now. Things don’t need to be different for us to live into the image of God. You know what they say, “The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you water it.”

Think about where you are in your life right now, whether you’re married or single or whatever your relationship status. Reflect on how you are already poised to be the person God intended you to be, right where you are in life right now.

What if you were living the sort of life where, when you found out the world was ending, you would just live one more day doing what you’re already doing?

Join us Sunday as we learn how to find contentment in our calling right where we are.

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